I think all kids probably love any activity that involves animals, and many adults do too. Claws "N" Paws Animal Park, near Lake Ariel in the Poconos, is a zoo with over 100 species of animals, large and small. While it's not the Bronx Zoo, there are a few things that make Claws "N" Paw a must-do on your Poconos family vacation.
Overall, Claws "N" Paws has a good variety of animals including a number of large cats, a reptile house, monkeys and apes, birds and small animals, like beavers, otters, an African porcupine and many more. The park was much larger than I thought it would be, considering the location, and we enjoyed walking around for a few hours looking at all the animals.
One nice thing about a smaller zoo is that you can get closer to the animals than you generally can at a big national zoo, where sometimes you need binoculars to see the animals. At Claws "N" Paws the animals are not in small cages, but are in small enough enclosures that you can generally get a good view. Sometimes the animals were right up to the plexiglass or fence and we felt like we could almost reach out and touch them.
The gibbons were a highlight of our visit. They were hooting and swinging around very actively. One gibbon was sitting right by the plexiglass and my daughter spent some time face to face with the gibbon looking at each other through the glass.
Claws "N" Paws has a daily schedule of animal demonstrations and feedings. There's also a petting area with farm animals that you can feed, as well as an dino dig activity. By far the best part of the visit for us, though, was the giraffe feeding.
To feed the giraffe, kids and adults are given slices of carrot to hold out. The giraffe will bend down over his fence and stick out his rough tongue to take the carrot right out of your hand. It's quite a sight to see, as well as to experience, and a special treat that we will remember forever. There's no extra fee for this activity and the guy was generous and let us all have one or more chances.
They also have a lory parrot feeding where you can get inside the parrot enclosure and feed the lories will stand on your arms and you can feed them. The feedings and shows happen at specific times during the day so it's probably a good idea to call ahead and find out the schedule so you don't miss them. Feeding the giraffe is a special experience you don't want to miss.
Claws "N" Paws Animal Park is at 1475 Ledgedale Road in Lake Ariel Pennsylvania. They are open seven days a week from May 1 through mid-October, but there are no shows after Labor Day. Check the Claws "N" Paws website for current pricing, hours and other information.
Tip: We stopped at the Ledgedale BBQ Pit and Country store for lunch on our way to Claws "N" Paws and had terrific pulled pork sandwiches (no website, but it's right at the intersection just south of Claws "N" Paws on Ledgedale Rd.) You can also pick up a brochure here with a $1 coupon off Claws "N" Paws or print one from the Claws "N" Paws website.